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Originally published Friday, August 8, 2014 at 8:01 PM

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It pays to shop around for a third-party docking station

Is there a better option than Microsoft’s docking station for Surface Pro 3? Patrick Marshall suggests an alternative choice with more features and a lower price.


Special to The Seattle Times

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Q: I’ve finally abandoned my desktop, in favor of a new Surface Pro 3, which has enough memory (8 gigabytes) and disk storage (500 gigabytes) for my needs. On some occasions, however, it would be nice to connect to a bigger display and maybe a bigger keyboard. Microsoft wants $200 for a docking station. Are there cheaper ways to do the job?

— Sam MacKay

A: Not only can you save money by choosing a third-party docking station, you can also get more features for that lower price.

I recently tried out an Iogear GUD300 device that offers more ports at a lower price ($106) than the Microsoft docking station.

The Iogear GUD300 offers both a DVI-1 and HDMI ports for video (along with adapters, if you need them), two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, a stereo audio jack and a microphone jack.

In comparison, with Microsoft’s Surface Pro docking station, in addition to an Ethernet port, a stereo audio jack and a microphone jack, you get only one USB 3.0 port, three USB 2.0 ports and a Mini Display port. And the choice of a Mini Display port means you’ll almost certainly need an adapter for your monitor. Unfortunately, none is provided.

The one advantage of the Microsoft product is that you can just slip your Surface Pro into the docking station. With the Iogear device you’ll need to connect your Surface Pro with a provided USB cable to the USB 3.0 In port. That’s small price to pay for saving $94 and gaining two USB ports.

Q: My wife and I have been receiving and sending emails with Outlook and Windows XP. We now have a brand-new Windows 8.1 PC. I am looking for an application compatible with Windows 8.1 that lets us receive, save, delete, forward and answer mail that comes from/to our Comcast email address. In short, we’re looking for a replacement for the combination Outlook & Windows XP. Is there such a thing? I do not wish to manage my mails in the cloud, as seems to be the preferred option in 8.1.

— Ricardo Ardila

A: I suspect you must be referring to Outlook Express. The full Office version of Outlook is compatible with Windows 8.1. I use Outlook 2013 with Windows 8.1, and versions going at least as far back as Outlook 2007 are also compatible.

Outlook Express, however, is not compatible with Windows 8.1. As you suggest, Microsoft’s strategy is to move people to the cloud, and its free client is Outlook.com.

If you want local storage of your email — as against using a browser-based client, such as Outlook.com or Gmail — you’ll need to select another client. If you don’t want to pay for the Office version of Outlook, consider a free client, such as Mozilla Firebird.

Q: I am running Windows 7 Ultimate on main PC. I have gotten an alert twice in the last month indicating that Microsoft has detected: 1) Trojan-PSW.Win32.launch; 2) HackTool:Win32/Welevate.A; and 3) Adware.Win32.Fraud. I back out of the alert at this point and run a McAfee scan, which finds nothing. Is this something I should be concerned about? I am currently up to date with McAfee Total Protection. Is this a false reading by McAfee?

— Kent Kiley

A: You’re right to back out of those alerts. It sounds to me like you’ve got malware on your computer that is generating those fake alert messages. Chances are that clicking on them will result in more malware.

As for McAfee not picking up anything, most anti-virus programs don’t detect malware. You’ll want to run a scan with an anti-malware program. If you’re looking for a solid — and free — package, try Malwarebyte’s Anti-malware. You can download the free version at https://www.malwarebytes.org/.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.



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